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To date, it remains unclear whether the experiences of large corporations with regard to knowledge transfer and process formalization can be successfully replicated in small companies. In this paper, the authors seek to contribute to the specialized literature on internal knowledge transfer processes and their degree of formalization in the context of small-sized innovative firms.Design/methodology/approachThe authors adopt a multiple case study approach to perform an in-depth comparative analysis of processes deployed to transfer knowledge internally and their degree of formalization, relying on rich narratives shared by informants during the data gathering stage. This sample is composed of five small innovators operating in the software industry in Quebec and Ontario.FindingsThe authors identify seven knowledge transfer processes in our sample, namely communities of practice, within project teams, across project teams, non-project related meetings, in-house exchanges with clients, technological devices, and playful activities. Uncovering a high cross-case variation in terms of process formalization, the findings imply that the degree of formalization of intra-firm knowledge transfer processes has no direct bearing on the innovative success of small software companies.Originality/valueThe study sheds new light on the topic of heterogeneity of small organizations from the perspective of knowledge transfer endeavors and provides empirical evidence in support of equifinality for a subset of small-sized innovators from the software sector.
Management Decision – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 2, 2021
Keywords: Knowledge transfer; Process formalization; Innovation; Equifinality; Small firms; Software industry
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